- Museum number
David before the Ark of the Covenant; a procession, led by musicians, entering through a triumphal arch
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, heightened with white, over black chalk, on buff paper
- Production date
Height: 332 millimetres
Width: 285 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Lit.: P. Pouncey and J.A. Gere, 'Italian drawings in the BM, Raphael and his circle', London, 1962, I, no. 233, II, 197; A. Marabottini, 'Polidoro da Caravaggio', Rome, 1969, I, no. 202, II, pl. CLXV, 3; L. Ravelli, 'Polidoro Caldara da Caravaggio', Bergamo, 1978, no. 437 (as copy after); B. Py, 'Everhard Jabach Collectionneur (1618-1695), Les Dessins de l'Inventaire de 1695', Paris, 2001, no. 38, p. 41
Pouncey & Gere 1962
A rough pen and ink sketch by Polidoro himself for the same composition, differing chiefly in the omission of the triumphal arch, is in Berlin (repr. K. Cassirer, 'Prussian Jahrbuch', xli (1920), p. 353). Though by a clumsy hand, 1959,1114.1 reveals such intimate knowledge of Polidoro's idiosyncrasies as to suggest an origin within his studio.*
Cassirer identified the subject as the entry of Charles V into Messina in 1535, an event for which Polidoro is known to have designed the temporary decorations. Several studies for these are among the collection of Polidoro drawings in Berlin, but the greater detail of 1959,1114.1 makes it clear that Cassirer was mistaken in his identification. He was possibly right, however, in dating the Berlin sketch in Polidoro's Messinese period, since in style and handling it is close to a study, also in Berlin, for the painting of 'Christ carrying the Cross' executed for the Church of the Annunziata at Messina (Cassirer, op. cit., p. 348, fig. 1). 1959,1114.1 and the related Berlin sketch may even have been connected with the entry of Charles V: a representation of David returning the Ark in triumph to Jerusalem could appropriately have found its place among the decorations. The authors of 'Memorie de' pittori messinesi e degli esteri che in Messina fiorirono' (Messina, 1821) who had access to a contemporary printed account of the entry of the Emperor, by Colagiacomo di Alibrando, restricted themselves to repeating (pp. 42 f.) descriptions of two triumphal arches which are there specifically attributed to Polidoro himself; but there were others which they imply were executed by his assistants.
* The 'similar' drawing at Lille (Pluchart 113; Gernsheim 17867) to which Cassirer refers is not by Polidoro and has no connection with the Berlin sketch either in composition or subject-matter: it represents part of a Roman triumph, and seems to us to be by Biagio Pupini at a moment when he was in contact with Girolamo da Carpi.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
Inscribed by A. M. Zanetti.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number